5 Things I Learned From Working At Home For 7 Years
In our increasingly connected world, the need to be in a physical office with your coworkers has ended for many. No longer do we have to be in the same meeting room with those we’re brainstorming with. Most work can be accomplished almost anywhere there is an internet connection (which is most everywhere these days).
Thanks to this new way of working together, many businesses have allowed their employees the freedom to work at home or anywhere they choose as long as they accomplish their work. This new choice to avoid the common headaches of office life such as rush-hour traffic, noisy office environments, workplace illnesses, and more, means happier and more productive employees.
I had the pleasure of working remotely for 7 years. With our head office almost 2,000 miles away along with my boss/CEO, we were able to run the business while enjoying a far happier balance between work and personal life. I learned a lot about working remotely in that time. Here are my tips for making the most of it.
Make A Routine
Everyone that works at home says it because it’s true. Working remotely becomes much easier if you have a routine. You have no drive to work so enjoy the extra sleep, but still make it a point to get up at a set time each day and get started. For me it was 9am (I’d often get up at 7am to workout first but the start time was always the same).
Having a set start time just as you would when you’re in the office helps keep you from sleeping your morning away or going off and doing other things that keep you from getting work done. By setting a routine you’ll help yourself stay on task and take care of what needs to be done.
Sometimes It’s Better To Give In To Distractions
One of the things that quickly becomes clear when working from home is that there are a million distractions that can keep you from your work. The dishes need to be washed, the bathroom could use a cleaning, it’d be nice to go get groceries when the store isn’t so busy. While you should try to resist these distractions as much as possible and concentrate on your work, there are times when you’re better off just giving in.
Distractions may deter from your work, but often attempting to ignore them will cost you even more productivity. It’s much better to take the 15 minute break from your work to clean the bathroom than it is to interrupt your work by constantly thinking about cleaning but resisting. While giving in to distractions isn’t always the best idea, it can be less costly to overall productivity than the distraction of thinking about them and resisting.
Power Yourself With Good Food
Being stuck in an office often means settling for whatever you can brown bag to work, the often less-than-healthy/appetizing options your company cafeteria is serving, or the local fast food menu. None of these options are ideal for fueling productive workers. That can all change when you work remotely.
Having your office at home means you have your kitchen right there. Now you’ve got access to create healthy meals that can power your day. Many of those that have to trudge into an office sacrifice having breakfast to get a couple extra minutes of sleep. As the most important meal to power your day, this should change when you work from home. Cook something tasty that offers the protein and good carb combo that will fill you up and keep you from being distracted by snacking during your day.
Lunch is where many work days fall apart. The not-so-great food choice you packed or the fast food spot you went because it was quick, is just the type of carb and fat rich food that leads to low energy afternoons. Working at home means you can control that. Plan great tasting lunches that feature foods that won’t weigh you down and give you the energy you need to hit the afternoon hard before happy hour.
By choosing healthier eating habits at home, you can make yourself more productive and help control that waistline that many add to by working a desk job.
Keep In Touch
Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you should be shut off from the rest of the world. Sure, you’ll have days when you stay in all day long and don’t leave the house. You might not even get dressed. But don’t break your ties with the outside world.
You’ve got to keep contact with friends, coworkers, family, and other social groups. Make time to see them when you can. Plan monthly or weekly lunches with friends and business associates. Join a local business networking group. Go to industry events or conferences. It not only helps keep you in touch but also helps maintain strong bonds with others in the business world and may present great opportunities along the line. Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you should never leave the home.
Enjoy The Freedom
The best thing about working from home is the freedom. It allows you to remain in an environment you’re comfortable in and work around your personal life too. Take advantage of that freedom. Get out and take a bike ride or exercise at noon each day (I did, and it was amazing for clearing my mind and solving tough work problems or brainstorming new ideas). Knock out your work early on Friday and head out to the cabin by noon. Enjoy the flexibility you get by not being in a normal office (just don’t abuse it).
Having the option and opportunity to work from home is something all should have and enjoy. While it does take self-control to work unsupervised and avoid distractions around the home, it also means better productivity and greater worker happiness. Seek out jobs that allow you this welcomed freedom and make the most of it. You’ll find it not only makes your work more enjoyable, but your personal life too.